On bringing Akmal back
To most, the name 'Kamran Akmal' brings back bitter memories of some of the most embarrassing defeats our national cricket team has ever faced. The worst of these was the Sydney Test of 2010. Four dropped catches and a run-out missed enabled the Aussies to snatch victory out of the jaws of a certain defeat.
To me, however, the name brings back memories of when I sat in the National Stadium, Karachi, and saw our three prime batsmen being dismissed in the first over of the match; a defeat lingered on our heads and we were only to be redeemed by the heroics of our number seven batsman; Akmal.
Not only did he save the match with an amazing performance, he also avoided the loss of a home Test series against arch-rivals India.
The year 2012 has seen the national team do well in the Test cricket arena; on the limited overs front, however, our only source of pride was the Asia Cup where our performance was also below potential. Excluding the Asia Cup, we’ve played ten One-Day Internationals, out of which we lost seven and won two; one win was against cricketing minnow Afghanistan.
All of these losses can be attributed to a dismal batting performance.
Since the retirement of Inzamamul Haq, Pakistan’s batting has deteriorated, with only strokes of brilliance seen now and again. Half the team being dismissed before reaching a collective hundred runs is a feat now commonly achieved. Countless changes have been made and a plethora of re-organisational tactics have been undertaken. With the exception of Azhar Ali’s recent inclusion, all of these have been to no avail.
In such times, an option which has been overlooked by national selectors is that of bringing back Kamran Akmal.
Akmal has the experience of over a hundred ODIs in which he has scored five centuries at a healthy strike rate of 84.31. On countless occasions, he has rescued Pakistan from critical situations. Our team is known for its slow scoring rate; to anyone with cricketing knowledge, a strike rate of 84 would be seen as a positive.
On many occasions, Akmal has facilitated chasing a target; the best of which I can remember is one against a weak West Indies’ team back in the early 2000’s when chasing a moderate total, we saw the side collapsed early on. He also has very solid techniques: crisp cover drives, perfectly-timed slog sweeps and a ferocious drive over the bowler’s head. To sum it all up, Akmal has the batting credentials for being in the limited overs squad.
As most would remember, Akmal was dropped following constant dismal performances behind the stumps which reached its peak in the World Cup last year. However, one should remember that in the same World Cup, he did get us to good starts, too, an example of which can be the semi-final against India where he starred in an opening partnership of over 50 runs, chasing a competitive total.
So, my question is why not give him a chance as a specialist batsman? Many keepers have taken off their keeping gloves to focus entirely on their batting, examples of which are Kumar Sangakkara and Rahul Dravid ─ not that their keeping was as flawed as Akmal’s.
I can say with certainty that Akmal has the potential of being Pakistan’s Sangakkara.
I plead only to bring him back, in the limited overs format, not in the test match format where Jr Akmal has been doing rather well. When the likes of Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Sami can be given repeated chances, why not Kamran Akmal? What’s the harm in bringing him back for just one series? He might just solve Pakistan’s batting woes.
Like Akmal once stated,
“...they remember the few catches I dropped and not the many I took.”
I think it's time that we took under consideration the contributions Akmal has provided for his team which have aided, if not led, them to victory.
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